Design Engineering Handbook

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Design Engineering Manifesto

Design Engineers are..

skilled at both design and front-end development, and they are able to contribute wireframes and mockups as well as front-end code. Both disciplines require logic and creativity.

They help designers see new technological solutions to design problems, and they help engineers better understand the power of design.

A design engineer might focus on:
  • setting up a design system
  • documenting patterns
  • performing workflow audits and updates
  • building UI components
  • writing usage documentation
  • working with stakeholders spread across an organization.

Additional tasks could include establishing and maintaining a local development environment, setting up testing, and release management.

Framework

Value

  • Who are my typical customers?
  • What are my customers’ pain points?
  • How does the product/feature I am making fit into their life?
  • What are some of their habits or behaviors?
  • What are their needs and goals?
  • How does this product solve their problems?
  • What are the most important features for the user?
  • Does our product add value and solve problems for our users?

Business Viability

  • Will this solution benefit the business?
  • How can these pain points be solved?
  • Based on my user, how will the business make a profit?
  • Who are my top three competitors?

Usability

The more satisfied a customer is with a product, the more likely they are to recommend it.

  • Effectiveness. Does the product achieve users’ intended goals?
  • Efficiency. Can users accomplish a task with minimum effort?
  • Satisfaction. Does the product make people feel good?

Feasibility

  • Will engineers be able to build the features within the time, resources, and technology available?

Prototype (POC)

  • How much time do I have?
  • Who is on my team?
  • Is there anything else I would like to test and validate before the features get released?

Questions at the intersection

  • Where are your team’s collaborative pain points? Is someone constantly having to pick up the slack? Is a single person a bottleneck for a workflow or process?
  • Are unhealthy team dynamics emerging? Are designers and engineers increasingly feeling unheard or undervalued for their contributions?
  • Do we frequently experience feasibility surprises and amass technical debt as a result? Do we find ourselves reinventing the wheel? Are we losing time solving solved problems and duplicating code and effort?
  • Who owns the work? Who is accountable? Who reviews the code? How does a component get shared? How do we collaborate on ownership?
  • Is our approach too waterfall-like? Are engineers unable to start working (prototyping, validating, scoping work) until designs are finalized? Are designers having to make decisions without having requirements set?
  • Are design and UI in alignment? When design brand guidelines are updated, who makes sure those changes are correctly updated at the appropriate level without creating overrides or inconsistent implementation? How do we test that something is not missing?
  • Are we having a lot of unnecessary, unproductive meetings? Are we throwing time at the problem of communication gaps?

Design Technologist (validation)

How does the candidate address the game dynamic? How does the candidate approach the game from a prototyping perspective? How easy is it to change or update any aspect of the game, making it faster or slower and updating the design? How does the candidate express themselves and add their own flavor to the game, with an eye to user experience? When she was interviewing, Christine Ma, a UI engineer at Indeed who started out as a design technologist, submitted a game about a meteorite hitting the earth. Instead of dots falling from top to bottom, which is the standard wireframe of the game, she made the dots fall diagonally. There was a race against the clock to prevent the meteorite from hitting the earth. Christine’s willingness to add a narrative and introduce a better user experience was sublime.

UI engineers (implementation)

How does the game demonstrate candidates’ excellence with regard to code quality and coding practice? Is their solution scalable? How complete is the solution? Has the candidate successfully resisted the urge to overengineer the game by not adding any unnecessary technologies? Have they tested the game to make sure everything is useful and performant?